Tim O’Leary (antenatal educator and therapist): You might have noticed as you become a new parent that there are so many people around you with really strong opinions, or great advice, or lots of certain tips that they might be offering your way. Well, that’s all well and good but some of that advice may not really fit with you, and it might be because it just doesn’t match what your baby’s like, or it doesn’t match because it doesn’t feel right. Part of this process is that you’re trying to find your way as a parent through a particular maze and part of that is to thinking about ‘Well what this task is about is about me building up my sense of judgment about what’s the right thing to do’ and that that may not just appear on day one. It might be something that you just keep working away at and building up your confidence in that regard. I would encourage you to just trust that will emerge, and even if that hasn’t been there in the first couple of weeks, don’t be worried about that. More just think ‘I’m building this and it’s like a skill that I’m building’.
Jenelle (mother of Oliver, 19 months): Sometimes you just know what to do. Sometimes you don’t and that’s when you refer to kind of books, or I guess, close advice from family members and I’ve kind of just used that as a guide. But also not taken it too seriously, because then you start getting to a point where you go ‘Oh my child’s not saying 5 words’. For instance, the other day I was looking up at what a 19 month old should be doing and Oliver says 5 words and it’s they should have 20 words, and then you start over-reacting, thinking they’ve got some speech disorder. When you ask around and a lot of people say ‘No he’s just really physical and that’s what he’s working on now and he’ll talk when he’ll talk’. Yes I’ve been getting my information from a variety of sources, but trying to analyse what’s real in this situation and what not to take on.
Tim O’Leary: Part of what you need to understand as a new parent is, conflicting advice, and this is not about you being dictated to by ‘experts’ or people who are very passionate about these subjects. This is about you taking onboard what they might have to say, but then letting yourself find your answer. What feels right for you and your partner in terms of what fits best for your baby, because at the end of the day, often what works for babies are very individual factors that don’t necessarily match your baby. Having said that, there are times as a parent where, you’ve got to know what to trust.
You’ve got to know to trust your gut instinct, because if you’ve got a feeling that something’s not right, just act on that. If you really feel like something’s not right here, then that’s when you act on that gut feeling and you go down to your GP and if there was nothing wrong with your baby, you’ve lost nothing.
Shabana and Cameron (parents of Aurora, 18 months): You can’t avoid information when you’re a new parent. It’s just thrust on you. But I think you’ve just got to keep your mind open for a specific thing, things that you need, for your family. You’ll identify stuff that’s like ‘I actually really need some advice with that’.
Mitch and Olivia (parents of Ellora, 4 years, and Adeline, 18 months): I mainly try and get advice, like I go and ask people for certain questions. You ask the people that you know will be helpful.
Troy (father of Matilda, 8 years, and Charlie, 4 years): I think the scariest part is when you feel isolated. And I went through a period like that where I felt isolated, felt by myself, and to find a group of people that you can either learn from, or just discuss what’s going on. I remember early days when Charlie, my little boy, was a baby and wouldn’t go to sleep. One of the most comforting thoughts I had when I was walking up and down the hallway, rocking him to sleep, was that, at the same time, there was maybe 100 other dads in 5 kilometre radius of me doing exactly the same thing. Just that idea of being part of this silent little category of blokes, gave me a lot of comfort that it wasn’t just me that was up at 3 o’clock in the morning trying to do this.
Jenelle: Whether you’re one parent or 2 parents, you need other people. It’s a community that helps raise a child and that’s become really important for me – that Oliver has family around him. Because they shape the way you grow up. We’ve all been shaped by our grandparents and uncles and aunts. So that’s been really important for me.
Troy: My family’s in South Australia. I’m in New South Wales so I don’t have much support. It’s been hard. You have the parents of your kids’ friends are a big thing. You find people that you trust and you like. But I think the biggest supports I’ve had, are the parents of my kids’ friends.
Tim O’Leary: I want people to know that there are other people around them who will be a source of support and sometimes advice. And often that advice is something you’ve got to work with. You don’t take it always on face value but it gives you something to think about, and that’s what key in finding your way through the maze of parenting.